Transgender Awareness Week
November 20, 2015
With this week being Transgender Awareness Week ending with today, Transgender Awareness Day, COLORS, West High’s gay-straight alliance has been celebrating the week. COLORS’s aim is to get the school involved in things like transgender awareness week. Anneke Thorne ’16, co-president of COLORS club, is passionate about raising for the LGBT community. “[COLORS] is such a fun community, and you can do so much to educate yourself, “ said Thorne. Inspired by Thorne, we decided to take a look at how others are raising awareness for transgender people around Iowa City.
We will continue to add to this post throughout the weekend, so check back for more updates.
Transgender Day of Remembrance Vigil
Last Thursday, a vigil to memorialize the lives of those who were lost due to transphobic violence was held at Danforth Chapel in Iowa City. The speakers, Cindy Ann Kilgo (they/them/their) and Kendra Malone (she/her/hers), told their stories and experiences of dealing with transphobia and violence against transgender people. Watch the videos below to hear their stories.
Isabelle Robles’s column: My time with Andrea Gibson
I’ve never had to think about my gender. My gender as I was born is the same as I identify with, a girl. When I was young, I easily flounced around in dresses and Mary Jane’s my mom placed me in and I always felt comfortable. I saw all the other kindergartners braiding their hair and weaving in plastic flowers with bubblegum pink ribbons, and I joined. Happily and easily. Not until this week did I realize how lucky I am to feel that way.
This past Wednesday I got the incredible opportunity to meet with spoken word artist and poet Andrea Gibson. As it was a poetry workshop, we got to sit on the stage of the Englert Theatre in downtown Iowa City and read, think about and write poetry. As someone interesting in journalism and writing as a career, I try to partake in poetry readings, workshops and writing-related events as much as I can. However, this one started differently than anything I have been to.
As we sat down at the table they asked us to state our name and preferred pronouns. I’d never been asked that before, so it took me by surprise, but I realized shortly afterward how beautiful of a thing it was. Andrea began to tell us that they had found over the years that they didn’t like the idea of restricting anyone to a gender. They said they never use pronouns, and have found over time how truly easy it is to not fit into the conformity only a few letters uttered can provide. The thing about this simple question that I found even more incredible than their ease was that they said, “It can be the pronoun you always go by, the pronoun you want to go by for the next hour and a half, whichever. You can choose.”
In a world filled with so many different kinds of people doesn’t it make sense to choose, truthfully according to our minds and hearts, our gender? God (or whomever you praise, if at all) knows that sometimes we can come into the world feeling unfit for our immediate environments, whether it be the town we live in, the people we are surrounded by or the layout of our homes. Our bodies are our most permanent home, so why not be able to change them and how we want them to define us as people? Now, something good to note is not all transgender people, often called an umbrella term, are actually going under a gender transition, but choose to be looked at as they, a person undefined by a gender. If you don’t feel safe where you are born, you make a change, whether it be physically or by the way you request to be viewed. Thankfully, Andrea Gibson has been able to use their beautiful art of words and speech to make that change. Individually, like me, and nationally and above.
The thing I found most incredible about Andrea is that even though they have garnered all these attention, for all the right reasons, of course, they are still probably one of the kindest people I have ever gotten to meet. It didn’t surprise me; there was a period of time in which their poem “Birthday” was on repeat for hours upon hours, reminding me to be thoughtful. But, Andrea is consumed by their kindness. After anything said, whether it be a poem, a comment or a funny joke, they would look you into the eyes and quietly say “Thank you.”
This event, among others I attended this week, taught me to be grateful for all that I have and relish in the beauty from others that may not have the same security in themselves. So please, take time to be interested enough to ask, and grateful enough to say thank you. And take some time to look up Andrea’s spoken word pieces while you’re at it.